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Pineapple

The exceptional juiciness and vibrant tropical flavor of pineapple that balances the tastes of sweet and tart make them only second to bananas as America’s favorite tropical fruit. Although the season for pineapple runs from March through June, they are available year-round in local markets.

Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.


Health Benefits

A Digestive Aid and A Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Fresh pineapple is rich in bromelain, a group of sulfur-containing proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes that not only aid digestion, but can effectively reduce inflammation and swelling, and has even been used experimentally as an anti-cancer agent. A variety of inflammatory agents are inhibited by the action of bromelain. In clinical human trials, bromelain has demonstrated signifcant anti-inflammatory effects, reducing swelling in inflammatory conditions such as acute sinusitis, sore throat, arthritis and gout, and speeding recovery from injuries and surgery. To maximize bromelain’s anti-inflammatory effects, pineapple should be eaten alone between meals or its enzymes will be used up digesting food.

Antioxidant Protection and Immune Support

Vitamin C is the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant, defending all aqueous areas of the body against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. Free radicals have been shown to promote the artery plaque build-up of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, cause the airway spasm that leads to asthma attacks, damage the cells of the colon so they become colon cancer cells, and contribute to the joint pain and disability seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This would explain why diets rich in vitamin C have been shown to be useful for preventing or reducing the severity of all of these conditions. In addition, vitamin C is vital for the proper function of the immune system, making it a nutrient to turn to for the prevention of recurrent ear infections, colds, and flu.

Manganese and Thiamin (Vitamin B1) for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defenses

Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 128.0% of the DV for this very important trace mineral. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a very good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that as as cofactors in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARM, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARM, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but pineapple can help you reach this goal. Add fresh pineapple to your morning smoothie, lunch time yogurt, any fruit and most vegetable salads. For example, try adding chunks of pineapple to your next cole slaw or carrot salad. For an elegant meal, top any fish with teriyaki sauce and fresh sliced pineapple, then broil.(July 10, 2004)

Description

Pineapple, Ananas comosus, belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, from which one of its most important health promoting compounds, the enzyme bromelain, was named. The Spanish name for pineapple, pina, and the root of its English name, reflects the fruit’s visual similarity to the pinecone.

Pineapples are actually not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface.

Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in color and has a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

History

While pineapples are thought to have originated in South America, they were first discovered on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe by Christopher Columbus in 1493. When Columbus and other discovers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruit’s need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in this region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies, countries in which the pineapple is still being grown today.

Since pineapples are very perishable, and modes of transportation to bring them stateside from the Caribbean Islands were relatively slow centuries ago, fresh pineapples were a rarity that became coveted by the early American colonists. While glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were a luxurious treat, it was the fresh pineapple itself that became the sought after true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item in those times that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centerpiece, and she would be awarded more than just a modicum of social awe and recognition.

In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii, the only state in which they are still grown. In addition to Hawaii, other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.

How to Select and Store

Look for pineapples that are heavy for their size. While larger pineapples will have a greater proportion of edible flesh, there is usually no difference in quality between a small and large size pineapple. Pineapples should be free of soft spots, bruises and darkened “eyes,” all of which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime. Pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked, so choose fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid pineapple that smells musty, sour or fermented.

Pineapple can be left at room temperature for one or two days before serving. While this process will not make the fruit any sweeter, it will help it to become softer and more juicy. Yet, as they are very perishable, you should still watch them closely during this period to ensure that they do not spoil. After two days, if you are still not ready to consume the pineapple, you should wrap it in a perforated plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator where it will keep for a maximum of three to five days.

Pineapple that has been cut up should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will stay fresher and retain more taste and juiciness if you also place some liquid, preferably some juice from the pineapple, in the container. Although pineapple can be frozen, this process greatly affects its flavor.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Preparing Pineapple:

Pineapple can be cut and peeled in a variety of ways. Regardless of how you proceed, the first step is always to remove the crown and the base of the fruit with a knife.

To peel the pineapple, place it base side down and carefully slice off the skin, carving out any remaining “eyes” with the tip of your knife. Or cut the pineapple into quarters, remove the core if desired, make slices into the quarters cutting from the flesh towards the rind, and then use your knife to separate the fruit from the rind. Once the rind is removed, cut the pineapple into the desired shape and size.

You can also use pineapple corers that are available in kitchen supply stores. While they provide a quick and convenient method for peeling and coring pineapples, they often result in a good amount of wasted fruit since they often cannot be adjusted for different fruit size. Similarly, some markets offer devices that will peel and core the pineapple you purchase, but once again, this process may waste a lot of fruit.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Pineapple is a wonderful addition to fruit salads, especially those containing other tropical fruits such as papaya, kiwi and mango.

Combine diced pineapple with chopped shrimp, grated ginger and a little olive oil. Season to taste and serve this fragrant shrimp salad on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Mix diced pineapple and chili peppers for an easy to prepare salsa that's an exceptional complement to fish such as halibut, tuna and salmon.

Drizzle maple syrup on pineapple slices and broil until brown. Serve plain or with yogurt.

Chopped pineapple, grated fennel and cashews go well together and are especially delicious as a side dish to chicken.

Safety

Pineapple is not a commonly allergenic food, is not included in the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide residues, and is also not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines. In fact, pineapple is often used as a fruit in allergy avoidance diets partly for these reasons, and for its bromelain (digestive enzyme) component.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read more about our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Pineapple
1.00 cup
75.95 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
manganese 2.56 mg 128.0 30.3 excellent
vitamin C 23.87 mg 39.8 9.4 excellent
vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.14 mg 9.3 2.2 good
copper 0.17 mg 8.5 2.0 good
dietary fiber 1.86 g 7.4 1.8 good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.13 mg 6.5 1.5 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Pineapple

References

  • Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Jun;122(6):883-92.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Maurer HR. Bromelain: biochemistry, pharmacology and medical use. Cell Mol Life Sci 2001 Aug;58(9):1234-45.
  • Walker AF, Bundy R, Hicks SM et al. Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine; 2002 Dec 9(8):681-6.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

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This page was updated on: 2004-11-20 18:26:59

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